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The Happy Hottentots (1930)

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Two desperate singers take a job as the singing act in a movie theater between shows. They soon regret their decision.


Bryan Foy


Herman Ruby


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Complete credited cast:
Joe Frisco ... Joe / Reese Brother


Joe and his friend Bob want to break into show business so they take on fake names - the Reece Brothers - and get a job performing at a movie theater between features. Turns out to be the job from hell: they're the only act, the proprietor has them doing more than 15 shows a day, the ham sandwiches he provides have bugs, and the audience and applause are scant. Their act consists of light singing and dancing. Is there a silver lining anywhere? They repair to a hotel for the night, where the there's a rude awakening, which they take in stride. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Musical | Short







Release Date:

October 1930 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Vitaphone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Vitaphone production reel #4393. See more »


Joe: How many shows do we do today?
Stage Manager: We got no set rules. You guys wanna be ready at all times. And if I want ya, I'll call ya. If you hear me holler, "The Reese Brothers", that means you're on. The pictures almost off now. So, hurry up and get made up.
See more »


Mandy Lane
Written by William J. McKenna
Performed by Joe Frisco and Bob Callahan
See more »

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User Reviews

Vaudeville Is Dead
11 May 2009 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

The Happy Hottentots is one of the few filmed records of the artistry of Joe Frisco, the famed stuttering comedian who took one lemon of a handicap and made it lemonade. We were lucky that Bryan Foy, son of another vaudeville legend produced this Vitagraph short for Warner Brothers.

What you see in The Happy Hottentots is what happened to vaudeville when sound motion pictures came in. Guys like Frisco and his partner Bob Callahan in these shorts were performing between films while the projectionist was changing films.

So when Billy Gilbert the stage manager tells them to go on with their act on they go, ad infinitum, getting worse and worse each time and emptying the theater gradually. It's funny, but also quite sad.

Frisco himself was a notorious gambler, a lot of his comedy monologue was concerned with his bad luck, but his addiction to the bet. He was like that other wit Will Rogers who started out as a trick rope artist who told funny stories. After a while Rogers didn't need the rope.

So it was with Frisco who didn't need the song and dance. He was a great favorite of Bing Crosby who had him on his radio show a lot and admired the man's wit. I only wish we had more of it in this short.

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